The World Trade Organization (WTO) “deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible” (WTO, 2012). The roles of WTO include the following. First, the WTO concentrates on trade negotiations.
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This includes services, goods, and intellectual property. WTO provides rules of liberalization and where there are exceptions. This role also includes looking into tariffs, settling disputes, and eliminating trade barriers. Second, WTO also monitors and implements trade policies and practices (Helpman, 1989). All member countries must inform the WTO of new laws and trade policies in use so that the WTO can scrutinize and ensure their implementation.
Third, WTO solves trade disputes. The WTO has “Dispute Settlement Understanding to ensure that disputing parties avert quarrels for smooth flow of trade” (WTO, 2012). Fourth, the WTO builds trade capacity among developing nations. For instance, developing nations have longer periods than developed nations to implement their trade policies, implement technical requirement, enhance their trading chances, and handle disputes.
Building trade capacity also focuses on developing trade infrastructure and skills among developing nations. Fifth, the organization also has outreach channels to engage other stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations, media, international trade bodies, and the public about its activities so as to enhance cooperation and awareness.
A recent activity of the WTO involved promoting agriculture and non-agricultural negotiations. This was in an effort to discuss effects of climate change and its mitigation and adaptation. Negations involved opportunities that may result into accessing markets for agricultural goods and non-agricultural goods. First, WTO looked into removal of trade tariff and non-tariff barriers in developed nations that hinder agriculture.
It also focused on the “elimination of reduced supports from developed nations in order to increase global production and allocation of resources” (WTO, 2012). Second, WTO also discussed trade opportunities available for developing nations that can increase their incomes and reduce vulnerability to adverse effects of climate change on developing countries by investing in food production through irrigation(WTO, 2012).
This aimed at protecting developing nations from severe consequences of unpredictable weather patterns. This has led the WTO to focus on trade opportunities involving biofuels between developed and developing nations. Countries are keen on biofuels to help them meet their Kyoto Protocol commitments. The WTO has realized that trades involving biofuels tend to occur mostly in producing countries particularly the EU zones.
On the other hand, the organization has learnt that the demand for biofuels is growing among the non-producing developing countries. Brazil has already become the world’s leading exporter of biofuels (Salvatore, 2005). The WTO involves its member countries to remove technical barriers that hinder trade opportunities involving biofuels.
Unlike WTO, African Development Bank (AfDB) has a diverse range of roles that cover key areas in social, political, and economic development of African countries (AfDB, 2012). These areas include agriculture and agro-industries, climate change, education, gender, energy and power and health.
AfDB also covers sectors like water supply and sanitation, transport, information and communication technology, infrastructure, human and social development, and private sector development. Thus, the roles of the WTO and AfDB vary significantly as WTO focuses on promoting world trade, but AfDB dwells on promoting development in social, political, and economic spheres. In short, WTO mainly focuses on promoting trade whereas AfDB concerns itself with developments.
African Development Bank (AfDB). (2012). Topics and Sectors. Retrieved from https://www.afdb.org/en/topics-and-sectors
Helpman, E. (1989). Trade Policy and Market Structure. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Salvatore, D. (2005). Introduction to international economics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
World Trade Organization (WTO). (2012). WTO trade topics. Retrieved from https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tratop_e.htm